Alex Hammond: Expert advice
Sky Sports News HQ presenter Alex Hammond rises from her sick bed to cast her over the weekend's action but is she with or against Expert Eye in the Dewhurst?
Roly Poly was yet another G1 winner for Aidan O'Brien and he's closing in on Bobby Frankel's world record now. When do you think he'll do it and can the filly make a mark in the F&M at the Breeders' Cup?
It's 23 and counting for the Ballydoyle maestro and whilst Group/Grade 1s don't come easy, they come more easily to O'Brien than most thanks to the extraordinary firepower at his disposal. He's been in a similar position before, but this time he looks to have a superb chance of equalling or even bettering the superb feat.
There's speculation he could reach the target on Champions Day at Ascot a week on Saturday and that looks the most likely scenario. He looks to have a strong hand in Friday's Fillies' Mile (more on that to follow), a tougher task in Saturday's Dewhurst, but if he heads into Ascot on 24, then the likes of Churchill, Winter and Caravaggio have claims of being winner number 25. It would be superb for British racing for it to happen at Ascot, so fingers crossed.
As for Roly Poly, readers of this blog will know I was delighted to see her win the Sun Chariot at Newmarket last weekend. She has got better and better this season and a trip to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup could be just the ticket. She's currently an 8/1 shot for the race with Sky Bet, which is quite attractive.
The big news this week is that Enable stays in training. How good is that for the sport and what route would you take with her next year?
I've never been more pleased to be proved wrong. Last week I was certain that she would be packed off to the paddocks via a date with a handsome chap, but her sporting owner Prince Khalid Abdullah has agreed to keep her in training as a four-year-old; high fives all round.
After her magnificent triumph in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, trainer John Gosden expressed his wish to try and win the race again on its return to Longchamp next October, so that will be her ultimate target. There are Group 1 races to be won along the way though and a race like the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland could be a good starting point. Although the mile and a quarter trip might be a bit short, those closest to her wouldn't expect that to be a problem. That considered, then the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot could be an option and there is the outside chance she could meet Aussie mighty mare Winx in that one. Then a step back up to her preferred trip of a mile and a half to try and retain her crown in the King George in July, followed by the Juddmonte International at York (10 furlongs), the race sponsored by her owner. Then the Arc again.
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She's 3/1 with Sky Bet to emulate Treve by winning a second Arc. A nice problem to have and I'm sure the plan is already in place. There are a variety of Enable specials on Sky Bet's website with my favourite, 5/2 that she wins a Group 1 over a mile and a quarter in 2018.
We've Group 1 action to look forward to on Friday in the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket. Could this be number 24 for O'Brien? Where's your money going?
So, back to the Aidan O'Brien record breaking quest. Happily, Magical and September are the stable declarations and all have claims; he's throwing plenty at this Group 1. Happily is the market leader after her win in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere (Grand Criterium) on Arc day at Chantilly. She beat the boys that day and appreciated the step up to a mile having got up to beat Magical in the final strides of the 7 furlongs of the Moyglare Stud Stakes the time before. To be honest, this one looks O'Brien's for the taking and it's Happily for me over the mile trip, although there's not much between them.
Is the Dewhurst all about Expert Eye or are you inclined to take him on?
This one looks harder for O'Brien, but it's not impossible. Expert Eye is the short priced favourite and the form looks good with his latest win in the Vintage Stakes being franked by the third James Garfield who has since won the Mill Reef. He's unbeaten, sharp and in the very capable hands of Sir Michael Stoute. Having said that at 4/6 he isn't my sort of price and although he is the form horse, there could be some value in the field.
Emaraaty will carry my cash with John Gosden's colt stepping up in class having won a Newbury Novice Stakes last month. He will need to achieve plenty in a short space of time, as his debut run came just over a month ago. Gosden wouldn't be running here for the craic though and this impeccably bred juvenile looks a potential star. He is a son of Dubawi out of a Group 1 winning mare called Zee Zee Top and he cost an eye-watering 2.6m guineas as a yearling. The dam's family continue to make waves at the yearling sales and this boy is bred to be pretty special. At 9/2 with Sky Bet he looks more appealing from a punting perspective.
And finally… the Cesarewitch. A nice easy one to finish! Give us a couple of each-way fancies for the big handicap please…
I gave you an ante-post Autumn Double selection a few weeks ago and whilst Chelsea Lad didn't win the first leg, the Cambridgeshire, he ran well to finish fourth, so I hope you backed the Autumn Double selection each-way!
The second selection was Magic Circle for Ralph Beckett and I haven't seen anything yet to change my mind. This horse had a good spell at York's Ebor meeting in August, winning a 2 mile handicap on the Wednesday before running another good race to finish fifth in the Ebor on the Saturday. He is only carrying 1lb more than he did in the Ebor and the break since then should have freshened him up. He has some good form in top staying handicaps as his effort in the Chester Cup showed when he was beaten just 2 1/4 lengths into fifth off a 4lb lower mark.
London Prize could be another to run into a place. He's trained by Ian Williams who has booked James Doyle to ride again. Doyle was on board when the horse won two starts back, but it was Fran Berry in the saddle when he won the Northumberland Plate consolation race last time out. He's only run seven times on the Flat and looks to still have more to offer in that sphere. He won the Imperial Cup over hurdles and thinks he has much more to come under both codes. The two picks are 14/1 and 12/1 respectively with Sky Bet, so a decent pay day if they can finish in the places.
Don't forget there is also some excellent jumping to look forward to this weekend too with some high quality horses making their seasonal debuts; I can't wait. I wish you all a successful weekend and I hope I'll have shaken off my bug by then and got my voice back to cheer some of these horses home.
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